The Judged Life! — James 2:11-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 1, 2014
We do not like to be judged by others, but we are no matter if we like it or not. We can declare, “Don’t you dare judge me!” but folks immediately do, especially if we say such a thing because they immediately think we have something in our life to hide that we should be judged for! As a pastor I have heard folks whine, “Judge not least ye be judged!” thinking that by doing so they have scored a self-righteous advantage, yet failing because Jesus went on to declare, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2 NIV), meaning that if one truly judges by God’s standards and not their own self-righteousness, they can indeed weigh in balance a fellow believer’s ungodly life. That’s why you are to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) In fact, Jesus and the rest of Scripture goes on to relate that believers will indeed be judged and held accountable to a higher standard than the world. We live a judged life and it is time for us to grow up and act like it.
Remember James just got through telling us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” And now he continues his teaching by relating to us just what he means. James was well aware there would be some who would tend to dismiss their offense of prejudice as trivial. Kind of like some do when they think they can sin in other areas of life and God won’t care. They would hardly consider themselves as actual sinners and can justify their ungodly actions with some of the lamest excuses: I deserve this! Everyone else is doing it! It’s my life! God doesn’t care if I do this one thing! However, James went on to make it clear that any sin is no small thing that can be easily dismissed, and, whether we like it or not, as believers we live a judged life! Let’s find out what James teaches us this morning…
Toddlers like to play the game Hide-and-Seek! They will put their hands in front of their eyes or place a favorite blanket over their heads, and declare, “You can’t see me!” Of course we can. Sadly, this is the very same thing some Christians do with God. They try to play a silly game of sinner’s hide-and-seek with the Lord and their lifestyle, thinking that if they just ignore their sin, God will to! James teaches us that in the judged life…
I. Any sin is sin and will be judged! (v. 11)
For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (James 2:11 NIV)
1. Not every sin is the same. Certainly the sin of unbelief will be judged harsher, especially when we know we should come to faith and yet reject it simply because we do not want to change our ungodly lifestyle! Jesus taught, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men (even believers), but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:30-31 NIV) Why? Because, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man (Jesus) will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit (those who hear but refuse the Spirit’s voice) will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32 NIV) That is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, whose sacred work is to draw us to God and Christ! And we know that the sin of deliberately trying to get believers to sin carries a heavy judgment, Jesus related in fact that “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck!” (Mark 9:42 NIV) However, James understood that there are Christians who actually think they can get away with their sin and God will not judge it. They have forgotten that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV) Paul admonished his readers, “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV) John wrote, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” And, that “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4, 6 NIV) This is why James related, “For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2:11 NIV) In other words, any sin is sin and will be judged by God!
EXAMPLE: When we had the Youth Car Wash a man drove in with an old battered pickup truck. It was a construction rig he used on his job and he saw we were doing a car wash, so he thought, “Why not?” The girls and I scrubbed as hard as we could and rinsed it real good trying to make sure we got as much of it as clean as we possibly could. However, no matter how hard we tried there were places on that pickup that just would not come clean. They were not dirty but rather they were where someone had spilled oil or gasoline on the paint and no matter how hard we scrubbed, the oil spot would still be evident. He chuckled when I remarked to him, “The past sins of your work have found you out.” That’s the way it is when we try to hide our sins or when we try to ignore them. We cannot wash them away ourselves or try to paint over them, only Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses us completely. If we sin, we must remember that any sin is sin and will be judged by God!
So, what’s the answer? If any sin is sin and will be judged by God, how do we escape being judged? Do we keep on sinning; hoping God will look the other way? Do we every day and every way try to get better and better? Do we use the same excuse the foolish fisherman did who was in a leaking boat, ignore the holes and water gushing in, but kept madly rowing for shore, yelling, “I’m paddling as hard as I can!”? James writes that the judged life realizes that…
II. If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord! (Vv. 12-13)
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:12-13 NIV)
1. We do not like it when we are asked to do something we do not want to do, but this should not be the case for the Christian who loves the Lord and is asked to follow him! It should be a delight and joy because we know that God only has the best planned for our lives if we simply follow his lead! God told the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) We try so hard to outguess God when it comes to what he has in store for our lives, thinking that we know so much better than the one who created us in the first place! What utter arrogance! He has told us over and over, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways!” (Isaiah 55:8) and we forget that God continued by promising that if his people obeyed him and followed him that “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (Isaiah 55:12 NIV) Wow! Now I do not know about you, but if God describes the promise of following him in this way, don’t you think it is worthwhile to do so? Perhaps you have forgotten that “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved!” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV) James had not forgotten. This is why he reminds us to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”! However, we should not, as Paul reminds us, use our “freedom to indulge the sinful nature”! (Galatians 5:13) We should love God so much that our lives reflect whom we follow. We are to abide in Christ; follow him so much that we might escape the corruption of this world! (2 Peter 1:4) Peter would encourage that it is “For this very reason” we as Christians should “make every effort to add to (our) faith goodness… knowledge… self-control… perseverance… godliness… brotherly kindness; and… love.” Peter knew “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV) Consistent obedience is required if spiritual maturity is to be attained! We are judged by God and “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” Yet, the wonderful truth is that God’s “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!
EXAMPLE: Books on leadership often appear on best-seller lists. Most of them tell how to become a powerful and effective leader. But Henri Nouwen’s book “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership” is written from a different perspective. The former university professor who spent many years serving in a community of developmentally disabled adults says: “The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?” There’s the real question that often goes unanswered. If we do not want others around us judging our faith; if we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!
James teaches us very succinctly that any sin is sin and it will be judged! If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!
This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.